Monday, March 12, 2007

Courtesy is dead in the grocery checkout line

So tonight on the way home I stopped at the local Sweetbay for some groceries. I didn't have a lot so I was using one of the smaller hand baskets. The kind you carry, not push. I got my stuff and got in line behind this lady (not this lady; this is just some photo I grabbed off Google. I'm sure this lady is perfectly nice. Look at how swiftly she's unloading her cart!). The lady I was behind tonight loaded all her stuff on the conveyor belt and then started browsing through a magazine while she waited for her groceries to be scanned. The things is, as her groceries moved along the belt, she didn't. She stayed camped out in that same spot, not allowing me to put my groceries up there. I didn't have that much stuff, but it was heavy enough that it would have been nice to not have to hold it if I didn't have to. So now I'm thinking, "What do I do here? Do I say something? I don't want to seem like a wimp who struggles with a lousy 10 pounds of groceries. Or do I just stand here until she realizes that she's holding me up, gets embarrassed, apologizes, laughs a cute, embarrassed laugh and moves up a little bit, allowing me to smile back and chuckle 'Hey, no problem!'. Well, she isn't moving. She is reading that magazine. And I don't mean just the captions under the photos; she's reading articles! What magazine is that anyway? Ashlee and Keith are hooking up? I don't even know who that is. Brad and Angelina are adopting another baby? Ok, I know who that is. But didn't they just adopt a...Jesus, her groceries are almost all bagged up and she isn't budging!!"
Honestly, it's not a huge deal. It's just that I don't understand people being so wrapped up in themselves that they don't notice little things like this going on around them. These are the same people who slow down to 10 miles an hour in the left hand lane because they just realized they want to cut across two lanes of traffic so they can make a right turn. they'd rather impose on everyone else, maybe even put them in mortal danger, because it's just too inconvenient for them to acknowledge that they screwed up and that they should just double back.
Anyway, she eventually did budge enough for me to move up and put my stuff down, but she never even acknowledged me. I think she just finished doing the crossword puzzle and decided to move along. But now I have another dilemma: just what is the correct etiquette for putting that little divider bar thing down? I'm always of the mindset that we don't need barriers between us. See? We can be cool, man. I have my groceries, you have yours and you, me and the groceries, are all just doing our own things. As long as we're not, like, imposing on each other's space, man, it's cool. But inevitably, somebody will not-so-subtly drop that thing in there. They don't make eye contact with you when they do it, but they're still making a declaration that what's theirs is theirs and what's yours is yours and they have no interest in getting the two mixed up. It's like they're saying, "I don't want your hot dogs anyway near my bran flakes, you filthy hot dog-buyer". I know it's pretty stupid to find this offensive but I do anyway. Also, I don't even know whose responsibility it is to lay down the boundary. Is it the leader or the follower? Can somebody please explain the protocol to me? Since I don't know, and since I'm such a free-spirit philosophically opposed to grocery segregation, I usually just let the other person do it. Except tonight, I'm a little pissy now from thinking of all this stuff and I didn't want my salad dressing associating with her ginger ale and Perrier (gee, in addition to celebrity gossip, she really enjoys nearly-flavorless carbonated beverages) so I put that thing down there. But it slipped from my hand and landed with a *THWACK!* that made everybody turn to see what was going on. Oh yeah, and by the time I actually out it down, she had paid and all her stuff was bagged up and put in her cart.
So once again, I'm an ass.

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